Seafood New Zealand Friday Update 21 July 2017

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Captain's Blog

July 21, 2017

Fisheries scientist hits back at critics

New Zealand’s fisheries management system has again been lauded internationally.
A survey earlier this year, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal in the US, rated this country’s Quota Management System in the top five out of 28 major fishing countries.
That finding was attacked by Otago University zoology professor Liz Slooten, a trenchant critic of the New Zealand fishing industry, and several of her colleagues.
They claimed the survey was biased, refused to accept its findings and said New Zealand was failing miserably in looking after its fish stocks.
Prominent fisheries scientist Ray Hilborn, a professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Science at the University of Washington, who oversaw the study, has again hit back.
“Our survey covered very specific elements of the fishery management system and included questions like ‘are stock assessments conducted for these species’?,” he said.
“These are not opinions but matters of fact. Most questions on the survey were of this nature and required a detailed understanding of how specific species were managed.
“Seven people completed the survey. Of these, three have current or past links to environmental NGOs, two currently work for the government or its research laboratory, one is a private consultant who has worked largely for the fishing industry and one is a consultant who has worked largely for Maori fishing interests. There was no significant difference in the evaluation of New Zealand fisheries based on the background of the respondent.” 
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research chief scientist Dr Rosemary Hurst said none of the critics had any experience of stock assessment processes.
Prof Hilborn said there had been several previous comparisons of fisheries management systems around the world “and New Zealand always comes out among the top countries”.
Even Dr Daniel Pauly, one of the co-authors of the Slooten critique and a leader on the Sea Around Us project that attempts to reconstruct actual catches over 60 years, has praised the New Zealand system.
In a 2008 paper Pauly and Alder ranked countries’ quality of management of the Exclusive Economic Zone. New Zealand was rated number one.
Dr Pauly has also advised the relative strength of the New Zealand management system should be taken into account when making world-wide comparisons.
“Researchers must use studies that do not represent a grossly biased sample, drawn from the well-managed fisheries of a few countries or regions at the world’s end, like Alaska or New Zealand,” he wrote.
Dirk Zeller, also a co-author of the Slooten paper, was a co-author on a previous paper that again rated New Zealand as one of the best fisheries management countries in the world.
Prof Hilborn is a founder of CFOOD – Collaborative for Food from Our Oceans Data -  a network of scientists building and maintaining a range of data bases on the status of fish stocks.
Its data base funders include the US National Science Foundation, the Walton and Packard foundations, the European Commission, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, fishing companies and Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. 
He believes the science literature and media are full of stories on fisheries sustainability that are simply wrong.
He is among a number of scientists, including those from NIWA and the Ministry for Primary Industries, critical of the highly politicised claims led by Auckland University Business School’s Dr Glenn Simmons and Prof Nigel Haworth, who is also president of the Labour Party, that New Zealand’s actual catches were nearly three times those declared to the Food and Agriculture Organisation from 1950.
That report relies heavily on anecdote, based on interviews with 200 anonymous crew members who were interviewed for an earlier study on conditions on foreign crewed vessels, has basic errors, and a methodology and data analysis that are unclear.
The relentlessly negative approach by the anti-commercial fishing lobby, now seeking to undermine the QMS, is at least consistent.
If research shows claims about the impacts of fishing are not borne out, the automatic response is denial.
Thus, when the highly respected Cawthron Institute found in 2106 that the Hector’s dolphin population was a lot healthier than previously thought, being an estimated 12-18,500 and was therefore obviously not being driven to extinction by trawling and set netting, Otago University’s self-appointed marine mammal experts could not accept it.
Instead of saying “hey, this is good news”, the response was the survey was inaccurate.
The industry is in no such denial.
Its attitude is that the QMS has served us well for 31 years but no system is perfect and it can always be improved.
That particularly applies to discards, deemed values, the penalty regime and the setting of Total Allowable Catches, all of which are being pursued with MPI.
We don’t always get it right and we say as much in the Promise campaign that was launched earlier this month, featuring the men and women of the seafood industry throughout the country.
That is why there is no sympathy for those who do transgress, such as Hawke’s Bay seafood director Nino D’Esposito convicted and fined $5000 this week for contravening a notice not to put to sea without an observer. Skipper Robert Harvey received the same penalty and the vessel, Danielle, was forfeited to the Crown.
A determination to meet higher standards and be honest and transparent in committing to long-term guardianship of a precious resource is resonating with the public.
“Admire all those hardy people who make it possible for me and my family to enjoy fresh fish at a reasonable price,” wrote Wilma Tansley on Facebook. “And so good for us. Well done. And the sea is not always as smooth as in that video. Harsh conditions.”
“Awesome Kiwis,” said Jorg Von Lubke in reference to those featured in seafood Promise videos (click here to watch). “Fishermen, loggers and shearers, tuff (sic) as, good on you all.”

Registrations closing for the 2017 Seafood Industry Conference

There is only one week left to register for the 2017 Seafood Industry conference. 
We have a full programme including local and international speakers.
One session will reveal how New Zealand can guarantee our seafood is of the highest quality and sourced from one of the most sustainably managed fisheries in the world.
The keynote speakers are Sir Ray Avery and Denmark's Alex Olsen.
The conference is preceded by a Technical Day on 2 August at Te Papa, with a wide range of speakers. View details for the Technical Day here.
To register for conference and the technical day, click here.

In the Media

Seafood New Zealand applauds paua relief package

The Government announced on Wednesday a $520,000 financial assistance package for Kaikoura's struggling paua divers and fisheries.
Seafood New Zealand chief executive Tim Pankhurst welcomed the news.
“The package will help support paua divers in Kaikoura who have been under considerable financial stress since last year’s earthquake,” he said.
“Primary industry businesses are often supported with financial aid in tough times and, with this package, Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has recognised the seafood industry’s importance to the local community and economy.”
A harvest ban on paua, stretching along 100 kilometres of coastline – from Cape Campbell to the Conway River – is in place where large areas of important juvenile habitat was left exposed by last year’s earthquake.
Read more

Hawke's Bay Seafoods' director convicted and fined

Stuff (18 July) Nino D'Esposito, a director of Hawke's Bay Seafoods, has been convicted and fined for allowing a vessel to go to sea without an observer on board. 
D'Esposito was sentenced in the Napier District Court on Monday for contravening a notice by allowing a vessel to be put to sea without an observer on board.
The offence took place in Napier in July 2015.
D'Esposito was ordered to pay $130 court costs and fined $5000.
Skipper Robert Harvey was convicted and fined the same amount.
The vessel Danielle was forfeited to the Crown.
Read more

Southern fishers unhappy with new regulations

Stuff (18 July) New government regulations are likely to put small fishing operators out of business, some southern fishers say.
New measures, to begin being rolled out in October, will require all vessels to have GPS equipment on-board and to report their catch electronically, with cameras to be phased in next year.
Fishers are worried the changes will have negative consequences despite Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy saying it will "give us arguably the most transparent and accountable commercial fishery anywhere in the world".
Direct Fish and Oyster Company owner Willy Calder said the regulations had not been well received.
"I haven't met a fisherman in Bluff who agrees with it," he said.
The cameras were particularly intrusive, Calder said.
"Those cameras should be on those whiz kids in Wellington to stop them from coming up with more stupid ideas."
Read more

2017 Seabird Smart Awards

Here’s your chance to spread the word about your fleet’s achievements.
Nominations are now open for the 2017 Seabird Smart Awards, so if you know someone who is making an extra effort to look after seabirds go online and nominate them.
The awards are run by the Southern Seabird Solutions Trust and aim to recognise outstanding leadership and commitment to looking after New Zealand seabirds.
You could nominate a skipper or crew, a manager, or even a vessel. Basically it can be anyone associated with fishing in any kind of role.
The 2017 awards function is timed to coincide with an international meeting of seabird experts from thirteen countries being held in Wellington in September.
Click here to learn more or nominate someone

Register now for Paua Conference 2017

Registrations are now open for the Paua Conference 2017.
Running in Nelson on August 24 & 25, the Paua Industry Council have put together a great lineup to update attendees on the sector.
Book now to hear an interesting and informative range of speakers, and for a chance to catch up with everything paua from throughout the country. 
To register go to or email

Ocean Bounty

The final episode of the 13-part Ocean Bounty series this Sunday covers two different inshore fisheries.
Snapper off Nelson and elephant fish off Timaru are featured, including talking to recreational anglers and increasing fish stocks.
Tune in to Three at 5pm on Sunday to check it out, and if you missed last week’s episode on the Hauraki Gulf, click here to watch it OnDemand

Roughy on the Rise

You can now purchase a copy of Roughy on the Rise, the story of New Zealand's most controversial fishery.
The story of orange roughy is one of cowboys, characters and conservation.
Roughy on the Rise charts the discovery of this mysterious deepwater fish, its exploitation, its depiction by environmental NGOs as the epitome of unsustainable fishing, the slow unlocking of its secrets, its key role in bankrolling the development of the New Zealand seafood industry - and latterly its recovery.
Click here to purchase a copy